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Papa Legba for Witches

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Nightcat is a practicing witch who loves to write about Wicca and many of the Gods and Goddesses she’s had the pleasure to encounter.

His Favorite Statue

My Legba likes this tiny statue I dressed in red and made the paper bead necklace for in keeping with his Haitian colors.

My Legba likes this tiny statue I dressed in red and made the paper bead necklace for in keeping with his Haitian colors.

Approach the crossroads

If you have arrived here, Papa Legba may be calling you. Loyal visitors will notice a lot of revamping. Papa wants the hub to be more universal because he says he has many faces. So although the original basis was pure Haitian, I'll be including stories and info about his other forms.

He is akin to Exu, Eshu, Legbara and countless other spirits. Clever Anansi, New Orleans La-Bas. Coyote, Loki, he is a trickster of a thousand forms. He is everywhere at once, so they know him in New Orleans, Africa, Haiti, South America, everywhere. But even though he has countless faces and names, Legba remains the same spirit of the crossroads.

This page is meant to help witches understand who Papa Legba is. You'll get to know his likes, dislikes, wherre to find him and more. In my view he is the same spirit that appears everywhere, but I still deal with spirits such as Coyote or Eshu as distinct, though to me, they are in a sense, part of him.

No disrespect towards your own personal views or teachings is meant. As always all photography and writing are my original work. If copying for Internet use, a link back and credit where credit is due are appreciated. All videos are included for informational purposes only. If you won the content and want additional credit and links or a video removed, please contact me. The intro picture is one of my own Legba statues you can get a better look at below.

Sacred Songs

In Haiti the lwa are called into possession with song, but even lone practitioners can chante lwa, or sing the sacred songs to the lwa. You can just say the prayer, play a taped verions, or so on. Yes it is OK to use English. The videos below contain the songs, as do various websites for individual mambos or hougans.

Chante Lwa Are Sung To Invite The Lwa In

The Best Chante Lwa I've Ever Heard

Notice The Call And Response Of The Chante Lwa

Veve For Papa Legba

His veve can give you hints to his nature. Notice the precision and order of the layout.

His veve can give you hints to his nature. Notice the precision and order of the layout.

Understanding Veves

Each Vodoun spirit has a sacred symbol or veve, used to call on him or her. This is one of Legba's each Legba getting his own special veve. If you practice in a house they will explain the meaning of the veve, but you can easily see some attributes like his staff.

Witches or anybody else working with his should either print a copy of a veve, or hand draw one. In Haiti it would be drawn on the ground outside in cornmeal or another grainy material.

His veve is courtesy of Wikipedia

The Gatekeeper

I love this video! His colors here, red and black are from New Orleans Voodoo. In Haitian Vodoun they use red and white. There red and black are reserved to honor the hottest lwa, the Petro spirits!

But he is a loving spirit and not likely to show up hot and angry unless you've been really disrespectful or hurt his feelings. So use the colors or system your prefer. I use a little of both since Rada (cool) Legba has a sense of humor and ways of getting both to suit himself.

He also enjoys toys and other goodies we will get into later.

Papa Legba The Gate Keeper

Legba Is Often Saluted With Other Spirits

Here Legba is served alongside his brother Ogou Balendjo.

Here Legba is served alongside his brother Ogou Balendjo.

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Why so Many Forms?

Legba has countless forms. Most often in Haiti he is seen as an old African man. Mine of course is white as a lily (as he puts it he can pass for white, but who is anyone to tell him what color he can be?) and wears a red robe that looks more like a wizard's than anything else. Even that staff of his looks magical in the Western sense. Just not proper for Papa Legba, according to tradition. Now we humans tend to resent Legba acting like this because we want him in a box. He refuses. So he shows us he is Legba, but he is Eshu too. He is Exu. He is Coyote, he is Crow and Raven. As soon as we have that straight and accept it he will insist he is simply Legba. He stares at us with a million faces, and just when we think we have him pinned down, he leaps away from us, laughing.

He is a lot like Loki. Capable of visiting Divine Madness on people. Misue or abuse of his power always comes back on us. No matter how many times I try to stick my Legba back into the impotent old man of Haiti box, he bursts free. Dancing and singing, he taunts me, daring me to pick up the box and try again.

He reminds me he is death to some folks, a role he rather resents having given up to Baron Samedi in the new world. Then he laughs because he is Baron Samedi. No matter how many pieces we hack him into he will restore himself. He is lord of sexuality as Eshu, even worse, he is a gender-bending, shape shifting, male or female lord or lady of this power.

You do have to be careful though. You never want to call on his brother Met Kalfou. It is all well and good to have a Wiccian view and see him as a balancing power, but he is pure chaos. He can't help but bring destruction wherever he goes. In Vodoun people only deal with him to make him go away.

That is my altar with just two of the many faces my Legba enjoys.

A Doll For Papa Legba

This figure from his altar transforms into another figure completely to tell a story. Perfect imagery for him.

This figure from his altar transforms into another figure completely to tell a story. Perfect imagery for him.

Dance With Papa Legba


I have an undefined form of arthritis. It got so bad at one point I could no longer walk. In despair I called out to Legba, asking him to help me. He agreed, but I would have to stay by his side, a loyal friend and provide and care for him. In return he makes sure I can walk without pain the majority of the time.

He got his first staff from me when he made me strong enough to walk without it. Now from time to time he gets my walking sticks out of gratitude for his love and healing. It might see unfair from a Judeo-Christian point of view, but this healing only lasts as long as I let Papa Legba share my life.

When I start having trouble walking, I realize I need to get straight with him. It isn't always food or things he wants. He wants respect, love. For me to honor the friendship part and not ignore him. EVERYTHING we do feeds our spirits. Our attention, how we live our life, even yes, talking to them.

If you have a relationship with Legba and he is asking for something, a new way of seeing him, a different type of relationship, being open about him in your life, listen. I fought against him for years, wanting to hold onto a pure Haitian view. Now that I've relaxed and let him take the lead, he and I are both so much happier.

Is it scary? Sure it is! Thousands of people would love to attack me for my views. I've been called a heretic, a shame to any African religion and so on. But I don't do what I do to buck the system. I do it because my spirits lead me to a place where we can interact in freedom and happiness.

Learning to trust Legba is the scariest lesson we can all learn. But he isn't going to get bored and drop you. Yes Legba tricks people, but he isn't a cruel spirit. He doesn't lead you somewhere then abandon you. He always and forever holds those he loves close to him. Legba adores humanity and only asks us to come dance with him.

Well, he also asks that I remind readers that he loves stories. You will have a very interested Legba if you tell him one or two. If you are lucky he will tell you one himself. Of course being Legba he may just turn around and ask you whoever heard of him liking stories.

Papa Legba

These videos show different experiences of Legba. He can be sweet, or he can frighten you half to death with how much power he carries. The hardest thing for witches is to learn to give over the role of opening and closing a circle to him.

His opening the gate and closing it is the same action, though you can still envision protective light at first, it is part of his job to protect you. It took me a while to trust him for protection, but as he dryly pointed out, he's stronger than me, and has been doing his job a lot longer than I have. He then did an exaggerated version of his limping walk to remind me it is from walking in both worlds.

Witch Speaks About Papa Legba

Papa Legba, The Voodoo Basics

St. Anthony Or Papa Legba?

For over three centuries slaves had precious little choice but to use Catholic icons to represent the lwa. As they share tratis, the gentle St. Anthony came to represent Legba.

For over three centuries slaves had precious little choice but to use Catholic icons to represent the lwa. As they share tratis, the gentle St. Anthony came to represent Legba.

Why Is St. Anthony Used To Represent Him?

Firstly, slaves had little choice but to use what was on hand. Remember that if they were found practicing any relgion other than Catholicism they would be brutalized. Also both gentlemen have much in common. Gruff and no nonsense as he can be at times, Legba does indeed love children. They are all like him to a point after all. They would all wander off if not tied down by society.

Both men prefer work clothes. Nothing fancy. Just a worn robe and hat that's all Legba desires. He likes his travel-worn clothes. He loves his battered old hat and cast off sack. Is this his way of remembering how slaves dressed? Or just part of his eccentric nature? Don't bother asking him. He will say 'yes' to both questions simultaneously. Then roar in laughter over your puzzlement.

Both are experts at uncovering the hidden and finding lost items. In Legba's case some might say, with all due love and respect, he hid them in the first place. Legba does have some differences though.

He walks with a cane. Mine prefers a staff of bamboo. Again nothing fancy, a garden stake, really. This represents the porteau-mitan or gateway that he controls. Without his say-so nothing and I mean nothing passes up or down this center pole of the universe. He is the closest to God you see (a lot like Saint Anthony's devotion to the baby Jesus), and the only one entrusted with this responsibility.

There's not enough room in one hub to go into proper detail, but he is the one in Vodoun who carries all your prayers and offerings to the other lwa. Please him and he will do so. Offend him and you will see what happens.

St. Lazurus is also used to represent him. For Legba seems lame and always has his dogs with him. The limp or drug leg comes from walking in both worlds at once. His dogs some say are a gift from his brother Ogou, to protect and serve Legba as he travels. You might not see them, but they are there. Some say they were his own dogs given to him by God. Whatever they are, they serve him faithfully.

St. Peter too is used. For Legba alone holds the keys to the gates. If the saints offend your pagan senses, try a statue of an older man. The shabbier the condition of said gentleman the better. Remember Legba is ever on the move he has no time for fancy clothes or pomp. For all his power, Legba is very humble. He can at times weep with joy that people remember to treat him well.

Legba and Bones

He has a sense of humor and mine like this decoration just the way it is. He is said to be fond of bones, you see.

He has a sense of humor and mine like this decoration just the way it is. He is said to be fond of bones, you see.

Offerings For Papa Legba

Number: 3, multiples of 3

His day varies. Mine likes Tuesday, but also Monday. A wise man said every day is Legba's. You think that is heavy? My Legba is writing this and yours is reading it. All communication is his.

Legba's traditional color is red or red and white in Haiti, except when it isn't. Being Legba he as acquired sackcloth brown, yellow, green, blue, and whatever else pleases him in some houses. Mine has one bottle I made him in red and black. He uses these colors in New Orleans Voodoo.

His brother Kalfou was sniffing around too much. Being clever, Legba told me if I made him another bottle he'd be sure to use the color as his Exu self of Santeria to keep his brother away. Now I want to be clear, that is not traditional Haitian Vodoun. Black and red are reserved for the hottest angriest lwa.

But he was plenty angry that his brother refused to leave me alone. I have no idea what he did, and most likely don't want to know. But he has protected me ever since.

He likes bread, he'd love some cassava, but will settle for any flat bread or toast. He will take you on your word, so never say: 'Well, I would buy you a ton of cassava bread. But they don't sell it anywhere." He will be sure to find a place for you to buy it. You can make it too.

He smokes a corncob pipe which is a nice offering. Mine of course insists the toy pipe I got him as a place holder is the most wonderful pipe ever. He flat out refused a real one to replace it. Go figure. Of course he later insisted on a nasty old pipe we found on a bench. I told him no, he pressed, so now he has this nasty old pipe and refuses a new one. He said he could of smoked it and it might be his. I told him it is probably from some guy with trenchmouth. But what Legba wants, he gets.

A Straw Hat Any kind is fine. Try to find a balance between style and cost.

A Cane: A cane, a staff, but something to help Papa walk. No, I would not offer him a wheelchair.

Tobacco for the pipe. Not too much. Mine just got a rather large bag, but he earned it with lightning fast response (think less then ten minutes) and finding something dear to a family member. The cost was far less than the heartache my family member felt.

Roasted, some say parched corn. Some Legbas love hot pepper sprinkled on this, some prefer plain. Almost all prefer a non sweet corn.

Coffee. Just one small cup, black please. Unless your Legba says otherwise. The cheaper the better. My Legba drinks the same rotgut quality of java I do.

A nice cloth for the altar in his color. Red or red and white are traditional. But if your Legba strongly insists on another, give it to him. Remember keeping him happy is what matters. He loves and looks after you. Internet trolls? Not so much.

On candles each house has something to say. Some insist it is red. Some say no, he is pure, give him white. Some houses even us red and white striped candles to be safe. Others swear by yellow, or blue. Or even black. But if your Legba insists on another color, please listen to him.

He also likes: pennies, rice, yams, palm oil, roses, black coffee. etc.

BTW, the statue does have arms! I wanted robes and a simple sash on him so he would look like my Legba. The rose is one of his flowers, and I handmade and painted the paper bead necklace for him.

Legba Loves Roasted Yams

Legba really enjoys his roasted yams and they are fairly easy to prepare.

Legba really enjoys his roasted yams and they are fairly easy to prepare.

Yam Offering

This part he did want posted. Today he did something wonderful for me along with some others. So I figured I'd cook up a yam the right way and give him some. I mean I peeled it, chopped it, put it in the oven, cooked it. So when it came out, amazingly well, I fed first my patron. Then later a plate all his own for Papa Legba.

They insisted I take the remaining yam and eat it. Well at first I thought I'd ruined it. There was no sweetness to it, more of a smoky flavor. I started to apologize, but apparently that is how he likes them. Legba said it tasted a lot like the ones from Haiti, but I figure he was being nice.

Still, he'd like for me to pass along the recipe.

You'll need:

one yam

maple syrup

raw sunflower seeds

raisins

butter

Peel and chop the yam. Try to aim for the chunk size that comes out of a can. Line a baking dish with foil. I used one where the cut yams were slightly above the top and were all piled up. Add your sunflower seeds and raisins.

Pour on a generous amount of syrup. Melt about one cup butter in microwave, add to dish. Cover with foil. If you used enough you can just crinkle it up like a hobo pack. Put in a 400 oven for about one and a half hours.

Check them from time to time as ovens vary. You can move them around a bit so all the yams get a chance in the syrup butter goodness. Yams are done when fork tender.

Legba Also Enjoys New Foods

All Legbas have different taste, but mine truly enjoyed this squash.

All Legbas have different taste, but mine truly enjoyed this squash.

Spaghetti Squash

You'll need:

spaghetti squash

butter

I bought the squash with the vauge idea of eating healthy. Not, between you, me, and the fence post, that I have any idea of what that is.

After I cooked and gave a taste, Legba surprised me by asking for some. Never cooked or tasted the like before, so I'm delighted he likes it. Remember the simpler the prep the more he tends to like food. Humble, Legba is. Or as mine puts it, he likes something he could cook at the roadside. Or have me cook for him.

Cut squash in half, scraping out seeds and the pulpy bits for a smooth surface. Don't worry if some of the stringy stuff remains, but it will tend to burn in the oven. Places squash halves on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I did mine in a convection (toaster) oven and it came out great.

Remove, use fork to scrape out that spaghetti style goodness, toss with butter. I found it to be naturally sweet and both Legba and I liked it as is. But the nice folks from Nature's Delight suggest adding salt, pepper and a cheese of your choice.

Altars For Legba Tend To Grow

And that's a good thing. As you relationship grows you may be inspired to add things.

And that's a good thing. As you relationship grows you may be inspired to add things.

A Little Story

OK, a quick story for you. Today I wanted to go to the crossroads and collect some earth for Papa Legba. Now even though I was getting this for him, I was taking it from his sacred space. So I took three pennies, and three sticks of gum as an offering and thank you. I knew I would owe him more than that for this sacred earth, but it was my way of honoring him and showing him my love and devotion.

On my way I found some other things I could use in service of the spirits, a good sign. I got to the crossroads, Legba's sun shining down on me. Of course in daylight, honey, you don't need to be at a four way stop at midnight for safety reasons. Even though midnight is his sacred time in New Orleans, you can go any time you need him in Haiti.

So I put down my offering and told Papa I was there for the earth for his altar. Now I had asked him permission ahead of time and knew I'd be stopped somehow if he wasn't happy. Well, success! But the earth was wet, so I started a litany of apologies. You see around here he might be getting all clay that would be, well, smelly as clay is wont to be. But it didn't smell then so I hoped for the best.

As I was walking home Papa falls in step with me as he likes to do. He starts admiring my walking stick. There isn't a stick I've ever had that he hasn't admired. Well he says, if I really loved him, and truly wanted to honor him, I'd give him the stick too. I sighed because I loved my stick. But of course I agreed because I love him more.

When I got home I found an earthen bowl for the soil. The soil was lovely and smelled sweet! Papa Legba was happy with me. I put the soil in the bowl and added his new walking stick near the altar. Later I would add a red tea candle on the soil for him as that is traditional.

On the day I honor him I'll add some lovely atomic fire balls as an offering and some coffee. For I'm dedicating this new altar as thanks and love to him for being with me. The important thing to see is that it is the love and devotion he craves. The things give him energy, yes, but Legba desires love above all else. Example, that hot mess is what he is happy with from me.

He Rules Communication

My Legba enjoys jazz and requesting the alternate photo for his hub, go figure.

My Legba enjoys jazz and requesting the alternate photo for his hub, go figure.

How Legba Can Help You

Legba will guard your sacred circle, making sure only those gods, spirits, or energy you want gets in. He will block any other energy, defending you at your most vulnerable. He can teach you better ways to do things, like opening the circle, casting energy, just about anything as everything we do in ritual is about communication.

He can guide you to the tools, books, and training you need. Legba will happily open the gate for you if he feels that is the path you are meant to be on. If he seems to be doing all he can to block your forward progress he has a good reason. That or you have ignored him for a while.